POPOR verification defeated by bureaucracy and intimidation

POPOR – October 7, 2003
Protest rally in Jakarta commemorating July 27 (Detik)
Protest rally in Jakarta commemorating July 27 (Detik)

[The following is an abridged translation of a statement issued by the People’s United Opposition Party (POPOR) on October 7 following the announcement by the Department of Justice and Human Rights that the party had failed the verification process to be legally registered as a political party. As a result, POPOR along with 137 others from a total of 187 political parties, will not be able to participate in the 2004 general elections.]

First of all, we need to explain that up until this time, POPOR has yet to obtain an official explanation from the Department of Justice and Human Rights as to why POPOR did not pass the political party verification process. The only thing that is certain at this time is the actual results of the verification of POPOR’s structure by the Department at the national, regional, city and sub-district levels.

Considering the above, we feel the need to explain the findings during the actual process of verification and the results of the verification which were the basis for a decision by the Department to declare that POPOR had not passed the verification as a political party and a legal entity who’s rights are acknowledged by the government.

Based on the data that it has, POPOR’s central leadership board has concluded that there were two factors which caused POPOR’s failure to be verified as a political party. Firstly, external obstacles, that is from government officials, the bureaucracy and thugs hired by the established political parties. Secondly, internal obstacles, that is the internal structure of POPOR itself.

The first conclusion is based on reports form POPOR’s regional and city bodies both during the process of extending POPOR’s structure as well as the actual verification by the Department which indicates that POPOR was treated unfairly, undemocratically, was intimidated and had to face a corrupt bureaucratic structure. For example:

1. POPOR received undemocratic treatment from the bureaucracy in Garut, West Java, where the village administration and neighbourhood association (RT/RW) made it difficult to obtain a certificate of residency. Or the case where a government official responsible for verification in the city of Cilegon, West Java, intimidated and even used thugs who admitted they were from a Banten marshal arts club in order to force the Cilegon city POPOR members to resign. Their reason given was that no other parties except [the former state ruling] party Golkar are allowed in Cilegon. Other such cases occurred in the regencies of Gianyar, Denpasar, Badung and Jembrana in Bali. Similar cases also occurred in Nganjuk and Surabaya in East Java.

2. POPOR members were intimidated by thugs and police who were supporting the interests of the established parties. The intimidation and threats by thugs in Cilegon resulted POPOR members resigning from the POPOR structure in the city of Cilegon and all of POPOR’s structures in the Cilegon sub-district. Cases of intimidation also befell POPOR in Garut, where a member was stabbed by thugs. Although the incident was reported to local police the case was not pursued. In the city of Binjai, North Sumatra, city leadership board members was also intimidated and POPOR’s sign at its regency office damaged. Intimidation was also carried out by police. POPOR board members in Papua were arrested and chased by intelligence officers from the Jayapura police when they held a function to launch POPOR’s branch in West Papua.

3. POPOR received unfair treatment during the process of verification by government officials, primarily during the verification process at the city level. Many cases occurred where the government officials did not arrive in accordance with the announced schedule or where officials arrived early or late. This had the consequence of POPOR members not being able to complete the verification process in the cities and sub-districts because they were not present during the verification. In fact in financial terms and because of other commitments, it was not an easy matter for POPOR sub-district members to arrive from remote areas to the city regency. These kind of cases occurred in Karawang (West Java), Temanggung (Central Java), Sidoarjo (East Java) and a number of other places.

4. POPOR had to deal with bureaucratic and corrupt structures. This was the fault of government officials in Central Java where POPOR was asked to complete deficiencies in the verification requirements which were caused by negligence by the government officials themselves, such as arriving late for an agreed appointment or obstacles to communication between the Department of Justice and Human Rights at the national and regional level. In one case a  government official asked for 1 million rupiah ($US 120) if POPOR wanted to pass the verification process in Central Java. Other cases occurred in Banyuwangi, East Java, where the sub-district bureaucracy asked for between 5000 and 50,000 rupiah for a certificate of residency. Similar cases occurred in almost all cities with village administrations, village heads and the RT/RW.

The second conclusion, or the internal factors, are based on the consideration that there are still many POPOR leadership board members, primarily in the regencies and cities who are new activists. Faced with all of these external obstacles such as dealing with bureaucrats and undemocratic government officials, or dealing with a corrupt bureaucratic structure, they were not up to the task and chose to resign, rather than fighting on or fulfilling the requests of the corrupt bureaucrats.

In response to the announcement by the Department of Justice and Human Rights which stated that POPOR had not passed the verification requirements as a political party and legal entity which is acknowledged by the government, the Central Leadership Body of POPOR is of the opinion that this was because POPOR received undemocratic treatment from the bureaucracy, the established parties, the verification officials from the Department along with intimidation by the police and paid thugs.

Therefore, to defend its democratic rights POPOR will file a suit against:

1. The Department of Justice and Human Rights because of its unfairness;
2. The police because of its acts of thuggery against POPOR members;
3. Through the relevant State Administrative Court launch as suit against the bureaucratic structure which uses undemocratic and corrupt methods.
4. We will also submit a complaint of these fraudulent practices to the national and local Election Monitoring Committees.

  • Anti-neocolonialism!
  • Anti-militarism!
  • Anti-New Order!
  • For democracy and prosperity now!

Jakarta, October 7, 2003

Central Leadership Board
People’s United Opposition Party

s/- Dita Indah Sari
General Chairperson

Donny Pradana
Secretary General

[Translated by James Balowski.